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Winning at video keno is numbers game

Aug 12, 2008 7:01 PM

Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm | Lately, I’ve been talking to some of the other video keno players out at Arizona Charlie’s (Decatur) while playing 20-card keno (near the race and sports book).

It’s always interesting to see what other players do; I’m not above using someone else’s idea if it can lead to a jackpot!

Specifically, we’ve been chatting about cluster patterns that involve marking eight 7-spots, all under eight numbers, which is a particular favorite of mine.

I would accompany that pattern with a "mirror image" cluster, such as an adjoining column of eight numbers, a 2x4 box or cross-over pattern (like a stair stepper) of eight numbers.

The result, as far as what the configuration looks like on the screen, is often two adjacent columns of eight numbers, such as the "8" and "9" columns, or the "3" and "4" columns, or the first four and last four numbers in, say, the first column, coupled with the first four and last four numbers in the second column.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been experimenting with new clusters that involve marking 16 numbers into matching configurations, which is pretty much what we’ve been chatting about in the casinos.

Of course, I think any pattern should work, if you stick with it. Any eight numbers have the same likelihood of popping up as eight other numbers.

Many dedicated keno players are astute, I’ve discovered, and they’re concerned about how the odds change when you group numbers, patterns and cards.

So, for those kindred souls, here’s a stab at figuring the odds with clustered keno cards.

We’ll use a 20-card game as an example, which includes two sets of eight (mirror image) 7-spots, overlapped by two sets of mirror image 8-spots.

The dream, of course, is to have all the numbers drop in, resulting in hitting all 16 of your 7-spot tickets, as well as your four 8-spot tickets. But those odds are a staggering 5.56-trillion-to-1!

It’s also off the charts to expect hitting 15 of 16 numbers (29 billion to 1), 14 of 16 numbers (392 million to 1), 13 of 16 numbers (10.1 million to 1) … well, you get the picture.

In reality, since I’ve been playing this cluster, the most I’ve hit was 11 numbers (at odds of 29,388-to-1, which is about 44 percent less than the odds of hitting a royal flush in video poker).

But you don’t really need that many numbers to cash a nice payoff. What matters most is where the numbers fall.

In this configuration, you get a nice payoff when you hit seven of your eight numbers (which results in a solid 7-spot and several 6-of-7’s in the multiple 7-spot configuration, or a 7-of-8 in the 8-spot ticket).

Most of the time, you’ll get three, four and five of your 16 numbers, but occasionally you’ll catch seven, eight, nine and even 10 numbers. If you’re lucky, they’ll fall into the "right" cluster and pay handsomely.

How handsomely? If you’re playing a fully-loaded nickel machine, catching 7-of-8 numbers in your pattern of eight 7-spots pays a healthy $1,900 (that includes $1,400 for one solid 7-spot, plus seven 6-of-7 awards).

If you’re fortunate to catch all eight numbers, you’ll be rewarded with $11,200 – eight solid 7-spots at $1,400 apiece.

Unfortunately, Arizona Charlie’s machines don’t have a nickel denomination for 20-card keno; they only go up to 3¢ denominations.

Nonetheless, getting paid $1,140 and $6,720 for the same catches will work.